Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 20.02.16

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HC clears decks for conducting trial in dalit priest suicide case – The Times Of India


BhumiAdhikarAndolan, Odisha alleged upper caste, ruling elite deprive Dalits of Land Right – Orissa Diary


India tackles discrimination against Untouchables –The Guardian

India’s caste system: ‘They are trying to erase dalit history. This is a martyrdom, a sacrifice’


How I fought discrimination at JNU – The  Governance Now


Should you talk about caste to your child? – The News Minute


Please Watch:

प्राइम टाइम : …ताकि हम सुन सकें कि हम क्या बोलते हैं



Note: Please find attachment for DMW Hindi (PDF)

The Times Of India

HC clears decks for conducting trial in dalit priest suicide case


L Saravanan | TNN | Feb 20, 2016, 11.12 AM IST

Madurai: In a twist to the suicide abetment case against O Raja, brother of the former chief minister and present finance minister O Panneerselvam, and four others, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court on Friday directed Dindigul collector TN Hariharan to appoint Erode-based advocate B Mohan as special public prosecutor (SPP) in the case.

Setting aside the collector’s order dated December 22 last barring the appointment of Mohan as SPP, Justice S Vaidyanathan said the order pertaining to the appointment of SPP should be carried out within 15 days from the receipt of a copy of the court order.

Further direction to the district principal sessions judge (PSJ), Dindigul, Justice Vaidyanathan said, “The PSJ should take up the matter pending before it and conduct the case on a day-to-day basis. The PSJ shall not adjourn the matter beyond two working days at any point of time. The accused shall appear before the Trial Court on all hearings to enable the Trial Court to bring up the issue to a logical end, at the earliest point of time.”

Nagamuthu’s father N Subburaj claimed that as per the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities (PoA)) Act, he had right to choose counsel to his wish and wanted Mohan to be appointed as SPP. But, the collector denied it.

Aggrieved over it, the father filed a case, which Justice Vaidyanathan heard and passed order allowing his petition.

The judge observed that the SC/ST (PoA) Act is a special statute, which empowers the victim of atrocity in the matter of trial of offences covered by the Act to have his case conducted by an eminent lawyer of his choice so as to ensure fair trial of his case.

“The contention of the government side that in the event of the aggrieved party choosing a lawyer of his choice, it will have a bearing on the Government financially, cannot be accepted. The next contention that a victim of atrocities is entitled to select a lawyer empaneled by the Government or a lawyer through Legal Aid is also cannot be accepted,” said the Judge.

“Further, in the impugned collector’s order it has been merely stated that the collector has no jurisdiction to appoint a SPP, but while arguing the case, the government side is trying to improve their case by relying on various Rules and Acts irrespective of what is stated in the impugned order, which cannot be permissible,” said the Judge.

Orissa Diary

BhumiAdhikarAndolan, Odisha alleged upper caste,

ruling elite deprive Dalits of Land Right


Saturday, February 20, 2016

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Report by Odisha Diary bureau, Bhubaneswar: Fact Finding Team of BhumiAdhikarAndolan, Odisha regarding complain on Violation of Dalit Land Right by the upper caste people at Kandhamal district and demolition of houses of dalits by the administration at Ganjam district. After the fact findings the team arranged a press meet at Berhampur(CPI(M) OFFICE) & expressed their concern on the issues and released their statement on today.

Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, Odisha alleged upper caste, ruling elite deprive Dalits of Land Right

In that press meet they accused the conspiracy of some vested interest upper caste, ruling elite with the administration are depriving dalit and adivasis from their basic land rights.

After a two days fact finding visit by the team of BhumiAdhikarAndolan, Odisha on the allegation on violation of dalit land rights in Kandhamal and Ganjam district the press conference was arranged at CPI (M) Office Berhampur. They alleged that in the name of temple land the upper caste vested interests backed by VHP (Viswa Hindu Parisad) are trying to evict/deprive 26 numbers families belongs to dalit(scheduled caste) from their occupied land in the Nuagam village under Brahmnigaon police station of DaringbadiTahasil, Kandhamal district.

Similarly the administration has been demolished 21 houses of poor, dalit families in Saantaraghai village of Asurbandha G.P under SoradaTahasil of Ganjam district without giving prior notice to them in the name of widening the National Highway-59, though their houses were situated about 15-20 feet distance from the complete road. In one side the VHP is trying to create caste conflict with the poor, landless dalits in Kandhamal district and in a conspiracy to grab the land encroached by dalits. Though from 1983 there are encroachment cases against the name of landless dalits by the DaringbadiTahasil, no step has been taken yet to settle the land in their names.

On the other hand the poor dalits of Sorada block who are living from 1990 flood at Saantaraghai village in govt. land only 8 families have land patta without demarcation. Their name has been enrolled in the voter list, NREGA job card, BPL Electricity connection and 3 families have also selected for Indira AbasJojana. Still they have been deprived are their houses are totally destroyed by the administration has reflected the ‘dual face’ of Naveen Pattnaik government, alleged by the fact finding team.

The team met Police Station in-charge of both Brahmnigaon and Sorada, Tahasildar of Daringbadi and Sorada, M.L.A of Sorada constituency and expressed their concern over the issue. They also submitted memorandum to the southern zone Revenue Divisional Commissioner, Berhampur. They demanded immediate intervention of administration to give justice to the affected families.

The team included AbhiramBehera-the state president of Odisha KrusakSabha, SrikantaMohanty, State Secretary of AIKMKS, Bijay Swain of ChasiAdhikarSangramManch, Ganjam and NarendraMohanty- State Convener of INSAF, Odisha.

The Guardian

India tackles discrimination against Untouchables

India’s caste system: ‘They are trying to erase dalit history. This is a martyrdom, a sacrifice’


20 February 1958: It is not easy, especially in India, for pariahs to become citizens


Delhi has been concentrating this week on an attempt to make Untouchables – Harijans, the children of God, as Mr Gandhi called them – the equals of the rest of the community. But it is not easy, especially in India, for pariahs to become citizens.

Ever since independence the Government of India has been putting money and facilities at the disposal of the Harijans. There has been progress in many ways: more Harijans, for instance, are each year getting education, the key to real economic emancipation and equality. The States Ministers for backward classes have been meeting under the patronage of Pandit Pant, the Home Minister, to discuss what can be done to accelerate the eradication of untouchability. But much has to be done before laws and intentions become hard facts.

And how could the Ministers be complacent when they know, for example, that only one Harijan in 3,000 can read (compared with India’s average of one in six) or that Harijans who make up 15 per cent of India’s agricultural population also make up 33 per cent of India’s landless. This is why the present conference while continuing to stress the need for economic and cultural aid, has been concentrating on ways and means to remove the social and ritual stigma in the minds of others.

The first suggestion it has accepted is that the Harijans and caste Hindus must be made to mix in all Government hostels and housing colonies. From now on there will be quotas of the caste Hindus and Untouchables in students’ hostels and housing schemes. The inducement offered to caste Hindus is that by mixing with Harijans they will qualify for the grants and advantages provided for Harijans. Another suggestion was that all temple trusts should be freed to engage at least one Harijan priest.

Meanwhile the Sanatanists of Vanarashi – the new sanskritised name for Benares – have adopted an effective line of protest against the pollution of their famous Vishvanathan temple, which was recently opened to Harijans by law and governmental initiative. The Sanatanists, led by eminent religious leaders, have opened a new temple and installed a new statue of the deity leaving the 200-year-old god, polluted and defiled, to be used by all and sundry.

The new temple is built in such a fashion that even Brahmins cannot come near the deity to touch it for good luck or respect; only a few priests will be allowed near the idol.

While orthodoxy is dominant the Harijans will be second-class citizens. Some of them have of late taken refuge in Buddhism; there have been mass conversions in Bombay and Central India, where the Mahars – the Untouchables of the late DrAmbedkar’s own community – are to be found. In the rest of India, Harijans are looking not to the Buddha for their salvation but to the spread of urbanisation which, by providing them with a mantle of anonymity away from the villages and their social groupings, makes it possible for them to look their fellow-men squarely in the face. And in South India, where towns are few and literacy is high, they naturally vote for the Communists.

The  Governance Now

How I fought discrimination at JNU


Rohith’s travails were not unique; an OBC student had to go to court against even a ‘progressive’ university. A first-person account

Gautam Sharma | February 20, 2016

When I sat down to write about my struggle of getting an admission in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), one thing clearly struck my mind: in this country the rules, regulations and laws are interpreted in such a negligent and covert manner that they could entail many possibilities of manipulation by public servants and administrators. One such manipulation of the law was played on me.

When I joined JNU in 2010 for BA Hons. (Russian), I was totally unaware of the systemic exploitation and discrimination embedded in modern university structures. Five years later, I completed my masters here. I wanted to study further, so I gave the MPhil entrance exam the same year and cleared it as well. The joy, however, was short-lived as the university had raised the minimum eligibility criterion in the programme: from 50 percent in the previous academic year (2014-15) to 55 percent for 2015-16. Therefore, I was denied admission as I had secured only 50 percent marks in my mastersprogramme. And thereon began my struggle.

After being told about this new development I tried exploring other avenues. Incidentally, I got to know that Delhi University (DU) and University Grants Commission (UGC) relax the criterion for students belonging to other backward classes (OBC), but at JNU, an OBC candidate is surprisingly kept at par with a general candidate while scheduled caste and scheduled tribe (SC/ST) candidates require only passing marks to apply in any programme. This was a grave anomaly; I took the matter to the vice chancellor. The VC took cognizance of my case but said that any relaxation for an OBC student has to be first approved by the academic council of the university – which would take time. The only avenue left with me at this juncture was to move the court of law to seek justice. It was not an easy decision for me as my family’s economic condition was not so good to bear the expenses.

During proceedings in the Delhi high court, the JNU administration and its counsel blatantly misled the court by producing a faulty marksheet which showed that after a re-evaluation, my grades were reduced from 50 to 49 percent (the fabrication was evident as the grades were later reverted by the administration). Using this, JNU’s counsel argued that even if the administration was to make relaxations for OBC candidates by going back to adopt their earlier set minimum eligibility criterion of 50 percent, I would still not qualify – an obvious tactic deployed by the administration to jeopardise my chances. The court thus on August 14, 2015 – the last date for admissions – passed an interim order, refusing to grant me admission. It, however, proposed that this was an important question which may arise year after year and needed to be adjudicated.

I ran from pillar to post to get my grades corrected which were actually unchanged after re-evaluation. This delayed the entire legal process by more than two months. I appealed against the interim order in the division bench of the high court which after further deliberations and hearings, reverted the entire matter to be expeditiously disposed by a single bench.

Soon, a long legal battle along with a political struggle inside the university campus ensued. The JNU counsel kept on providing spurious arguments in the court and tried hard to delay and scuttle the whole process. Even after a series of sustained protests by the students’ union and various political groups, the university administration remained adamant and insensitive to acknowledge this irregularity in the admission process. The entrenched brahminical hierarchies in society and within the university power structures ensured that the legally mandated reservations were not implemented properly. All sorts of mechanisms and tactics were adopted for the same. Finally, the university was forced to form a standing committee on admissions to look into the matter. Since most of the members of the committee belonged to the upper caste, they could not come out of their subjective caste biases and they took a unilateral decision to continue with the same old regulation. But after a series of protests of the student union they called the committee’s meeting for three more times but their reluctance to provide relaxation continued.

In the past too JNU has not stood by its founding principles and the administration along with some in the teaching community have been depriving constitutional mandates for students from deprived groups. In 2010 a progressive student group AISA, took up the fight against the administration in its wrongful interpretation of cut-off marks in the entrance exam for the OBC candidates. In yet another case of entrenched bias, it has been found through  RTIs that there is a systemic discrimination in marking students in the viva-voce exam on the basis of caste, language and their regional backgrounds. The marks for viva-voce are extremely high which gives enough space for these biases to operate. The representation of SC, ST, OBC, Minority and PH faculty is unequal with respect to the total strength of the faculty teaching at JNU.

The court’s final judgment of January 19, 2016, stated that JNU had deviated from its founding principles of ensuring that “an adequate number of students from underprivileged and socially handicapped sections of the society are admitted to the university”, and declared the arbitrary increase in the eligibility criterion as unconstitutional. It stated that “in these circumstances, the policy of JNU, whereby the OBC candidates are put at par with the general category candidates, in respect of minimum eligibility marks required to be obtained, vis-a-vis the base-degree, is declared unconstitutional and contrary to Article 14 of the constitution”. It instructed JNU to admit me for the academic year 2015-16; however I can join the course only in the next academic year.

Given that the eligibility criterion for this programme was 50 percent since its inception in JNU, reasons for the sudden increase in the cut-off need a thorough analysis. The answer to me lies in the fact that from 2010, after proper implementation of OBC reservations in the university, there had been an increase in the number of students from traditionally marginalised backward classes and communities. The increase in the minimum eligibility criterion was thus a newer institutional mechanism to curb the entry of students from such groups. This hasty and arbitrary move had no rational connection with the objective JNU was to achieve – “better standards”, as stated by the university’s counsel in the court.

A university is avowed to be a place which is ideally free from all kinds of prejudices and biases that breed in our mainstream society. But when a university itself becomes a site for perpetuation and accentuation of inequalities, such a moment requires serious introspection on part of all those who dream of an oppression-free society and one that provides equal opportunities to all.

In the wake of a spate of suicides by university students across the country, there is an urgent need to acknowledge that an increase in representation of marginalised sections in the university system has to be supplemented with sensitisation of institutes towards the needs of these vulnerable sections. An equal representation by the marginalised sections in universities also needs to be ensured so that those with alternative values and worldviews are not sidelined by those who have hegemony from a long time.

The News Minute

Should you talk about caste to your child?


Practice respect and let them emulate you: Children learn through observation.

SowmyaRajendran| Friday, February 19, 2016 – 17:20

You are an urban, modern, not-particularly religious parent. You are secular – you burst crackers for Diwali, eat biryani for Id, and dress up as Santa Claus for Christmas. Caste, in your life, is irrelevant. Indeed, you might have even had an inter-caste or inter-religious marriage and don’t practice any caste-related rituals. Given that caste plays no role in your life, should you speak to your child about it?

My answer is…yes. I grew up in an atheistic household and let alone caste; even religion was immaterial to me. But then, we were born Hindu, the majority religion of this country, and I could afford to find it irrelevant. I’m also from an upper-caste family, growing up in a metropolitan city, so there was nobody to put me in my place or point out that I was inferior in any way. Not overtly. The only time I thought about my caste seriously was during my college admissions when being ‘FC’ was such a downer. I resented the BC/SC/ST students for whom (I imagined) college admissions were a breeze though their grades were much lower than mine. Indeed, when the course began, I couldn’t understand how some students had even been given seats – they were so woefully behind.

I prided myself on being free of religious and caste prejudice. But I was completely blind to the cultural capital and privilege that I had been born with. I couldn’t understand why someone was so terrified of making a PowerPoint presentation or why only a few of us always voiced our views confidently in a group. I didn’t stop to think why it was only a select few who got to decide things on behalf of the class – or the fact that this select few was composed of upper class, upper caste students always. I never viewed this through the caste angle because I was so smug in my assumption that I was a pure, unbiased soul. I’m ashamed of my insensitivity now. And this is why I will talk to my daughter about caste. Because whether we like it or not, caste is all around us and within us. And it’s only if we have this awareness can we dismantle it.

Address the elephant in the room: Children understand inequality. They also have an inherent sense of justice and fairness. Instead of pretending that the world is full of unicorns and rainbows, talk to them about the real world, if you want to bring up a sensitive child. This is not to say that you have to depress the child – but it’s never too early to point out that not everyone has everything.

Make them understand what privilege is: Whether it’s caste, class, religion or gender, belonging to a certain identity comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. We take all of these for granted on an everyday basis – but this is why we’re oblivious to discrimination when it happens to others. It’s a good idea for all of us to know who we are and where we come from. The family tree is a good place to start this digging.

  1. Practice respect and let them emulate you: Children learn through observation. If you have a separate glass for your domestic help or you stay away from the puja room when on your period or you don’t eat non-veg on ‘good’ days, they will grow up thinking these caste practices, these notions of ‘purity’, are normal. Be willing to do some unlearning yourself. Also, do not confuse sympathy for respect.

  2. Teach them confidence: To stand up for themselves when they are put down by others for who they are and to stand up for others when they see that something unjust is going on. It’s not necessary to be on the popular side always. Tell them about people who have gone on to change the world for the better by refusing to follow ‘tradition’.

  1. Introduce diversity: Expose them to different cultures, communities, and ways of thinking and living. Most children from privileged sections grow up thinking the world is homogenous and that discrimination and differences exist on some other planet, not their own backyard. It’s the parent’s job to show them that this isn’t true.

  1. Encourage original thinking: Be open to bringing up a child with a questioning mind – someone who might even question you and your actions. Obedience is overrated in our culture.

Discrimination does not go away by pretending that it doesn’t exist. Caste isn’t limited to the ‘clever brahmin’ folk-tales that your child reads. It is something they will have to confront as they grow up – and if they’re to deal with it sensitively and sensibly, it’s a good idea to take the bull by its horns when they are still young.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET


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